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VAR decisions to be explained to fans but temporary sub trial ruled out
Decisions made by the Video Assistant Referee are set to be explained to television viewers and those in the stadium at next month’s Club World Cup.
International Football Association Board (Ifab) says if the trial in Morocco is a success then it could be rolled out at other Fifa competitions.
That could include this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Meanwhile, a temporary concussion substitute trial in the Premier League next season has been ruled out.
It was discussed when Ifab met at Wembley on Wednesday following a request from world players’ union Fifpro and the World Leagues Forum to test the protocol in the English top flight, Ligue 1 in France and Major League Soccer in the United States.
The current concussion protocols, which allow an additional permanent substitution to be made, have come in for criticism since they were approved in 2020, with campaigners highlighting instances where a player has been allowed to stay on the pitch before later being substituted.
However, Football Association (FA) chief executive Mark Bullingham, who supported the idea of a trial, says no consensus could be reached and instead the current permanent concussion substitute trial will continue indefinitely.
“Myself and others hold the view it would be worth trialling [temporary concussion substitutes] because we think there are instances of players who have appear to have been concussed and have not been taken off,” said Bullingham.
“The argument is that you learn more in 15 mins than three and there is merit in an evaluation away from the pitch.
“However, the decision was taken to strengthen the application of the permanent model through more education, more evidence and more impetus, so that the idea of the right decisions being made becomes reality.
“If permanent substitutes were done right, that is the safest option because at the point there is any suspicion, the player would come off.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association’s (PFA) Head of Brain Health, Dr Adam White, said it was “extremely disappointing” that a trial of temporary concussion substitutes was not approved.
“There is a fundamental issue if player unions and leagues feel football’s lawmakers are holding them back from doing what they collectively agree is best to protect the safety of players,” said White.
“The next step will be for unions and leagues to discuss what this means and what options are available to them.”
Global player’s union Fifpro and World Leagues Forum, the association of professional football leagues, said in a joint statement they were “greatly disappointed” by the decision and would “further assess the situation” and “consider [their] options moving forward”.
Referees to communicate VAR decisions
There has been growing frustration at the lack of communication around VAR decisions to fans.
A 12-month trial around stadium communication at Fifa events will begin at the Club World Cup – which takes place from 1-11 February – and, if successful, move on to the men’s Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia in May and then the women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
It has still to be decided whether the communication in Morocco will be in French, English or Arabic.
A system where the decisions were explained more clearly to those watching at home and inside stadiums would follow the cricket and National Football League (NFL)-style model of direct explanations.
“We don’t think fans getting enough information,” added Bullingham.
“We are trialling this in the hardest environment first because we think it will be easier in domestic leagues.”
Get ready for more injury time
Ifab also hailed its “successful” policy on stoppage time at the World Cup in Qatar, when matches lasting more than 100 minutes, including stoppages, became the norm.
It is keen to ensure the time the ball is in play goes up and having rejected alternatives, such as a countdown clock, believes changes can be made within the existing structure of the game.
Essentially that means timing injury delays and adding that precise figure at the end of a match rather than a rough idea of the total time, which will be relayed as guidance to all domestic competitions from next season.
This could mean huge amounts of injury time, but Bullingham feels this will reduce once the implications become clear to the players.
“Once there is no incentive to stay down, we think there will be less injury-time anyway,” he said.
Guidance around offside decisions initially relayed last summer was made law, including the issue of players interfering with play.
The controversy around Manchester United’s equalising goal against Manchester City on Saturday was discussed and whether it was felt there is a loophole in the law that needs to be closed.
“The conclusion was there is no gap in the law,” said Bullingham.